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Why are the penises on ancient statues so small?
05.10.2016
12:06 pm

Topics:
Art
History
Sex

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If you’ve spent any time in the Metropolitan Museum or the British Museum or really anyplace where ancient statuary is featured, you might have emitted a titter at the sight of the willies on the nekkid dudes made of marble.

Those statues prompt a pretty good question: Why are the dicks on ancient statuary so small anyway?

That’s the question that curator and blogger Ellen Oredsson, a resident of Bangkok, Thailand, recently tried to answer on her blog How to Talk About Art History.

Ellen’s answer has several parts. First, ancient statues almost always—yes, almost always—feature flaccid penises, and the penises in the statues aren’t all that small if you compare them to a real-life tuck (George Costanza was quite eloquent on the subject of “shrinkage”).
 

Michelangelo’s David (detail)
 
Second, Oredsson cites scholarship such as Kenneth Dover’s Greek Homosexuality to the effect that the Greeks may have valued smaller penises more than we do, in part because “large penises were associated with very specific characteristics: foolishness, lust and ugliness.”

Interestingly, just because you see a few Greek statues with tiny willies, that doesn’t rule out the possibility that other statues don’t follow the same rules. And indeed, some ancient statues quite noticeably do not feature small penises, but big ones. For instance, pictured below is a statue of a satyr, which Wikipedia defines as “one of a troop of ithyphallic male companions of Dionysus with equine (horse-like) features, including a horse-tail, horse-like ears, and sometimes a horse-like phallus because of permanent erection.”
 

 
If you Google “Greek satyr statue,” you’ll see plenty of other examples just like this one.

There’s also this attention-getting depiction of Priapus, a Greek fertility god on whom Hera cursed with both a permanent erection and impotence—a rough combination!
 

 
Oredsson doesn’t give it too much emphasis, but I think a major reason is that we’re all way too immature. She writes, “Ancient Greek sculptures are all about balance and idealism. Therefore, it makes sense that they wouldn’t have large penises, as this would be considered humorous or grotesque.”

Exactly. The presence of a large member is, at a minimum, a major distraction from the depiction of “the ideal Greek man,” who was meant to be “rational, intellectual and authoritative.”

And that’s all without getting into the possibility of breakage....
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Someone had to have invented the first selfie stick in history, right?
05.02.2016
11:34 am

Topics:
Amusing
History

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I do particularly loathe the term “selfie stick” but what else could I call this shot of Helmer Larsson and his wife, Naemi Larsson, taken all the way back in 1934? I mean, he’s taking a picture of himself and he’s using a stick for Pete’s sake! Now I know this isn’t the first self-portrait taken with a camera, but it is the first vintage photograph I’ve seen where a stick was employed to push the shutter button by the subject.

Whatever the case, I find the image adorable.

via The Kraftfuttermischwerk

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Free love, free press and lots of nude hippie chicks
05.02.2016
10:05 am

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History
Literature
Sex

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When I got to San Francisco, the Summer Of Love was in full effect and I was crashing at a pad on Waller street in the Haight. There were a couple dozen of us in a large multi-room apartment sleeping on the floor, on couches, wherever we could find a few unoccupied square feet. I had a nice setup in an oversized closet. I knew the guy who rented the apartment (we had gone to junior high together) and so I got some preferential treatment. Everyone in the place were pilgrims from all over the United States and we were all under twenty.  And, like I said, it was the Summer Of Love. So a lot of fucking was going on.

Everything you’ve read or heard about “free sex” in the Sixties is pretty much true. It was a love fest and the worst that might happen is that you got the clap or crabs. No one was dying. And for awhile no one that I knew was having babies, either. It was as if God had said “go for it.” And we did. I’d lie in the black light glow of my closet tripping on acid and listening to the zipping and unzipping of sleeping bags as young lovers migrated from one to the other, their giggles and moans mingling with the steady drone of KSAN radio playing the soundtrack to our lives.

In the world of commerce, far from Hippie Hill and Panhandle Park, the free sex “thing” was a great way for newspapers and magazines to sell product. There was an international explosion of hippie-themed publications that dealt with sex, politics, art, etc. Some were legit. Some were pure exploitation. Some were both. A lot of periodicals actually contained the writings of well-respected thinkers like Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary and were read by the counter-culturists they were intended for. Others were designed to appeal to the gawkers and the “raincoat crowd.” Hippie shit sold and there were a bunch of easy angles for marketing it: sex, drugs and rock and roll. If you didn’t have the balls to be a part of it you could always imagine. Burn some incense, put on some sitar music and pull your pud as you pictured yourself surrounded by a bunch of flower children wearing beads, headbands and patchouli. Your very own hippie oasis in a rec room tricked out in plywood and shag carpeting. Walter Mitty as imagined by R. Crumb.

Here’s a collection of covers that run the gamut from authentically cool alternative press publications to some really goofy softcore pulp. As I was compiling these it became quickly apparent that putting naked hairy dudes on the covers was never part of the marketing plan. The free love movement still had some old school hangovers from Playboy magazine.
 

 

 
More groovy hippie shit after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Let it snow: Shameless cocaine ads of the 1970s
04.27.2016
11:45 am

Topics:
Advertising
Drugs
History

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Ah the 1970s, when disco dust was plentiful and there were cocaine paraphernalia ads galore in head magazines. Dig the Hoover-themed coke spoons! Or the “what the hell were they thinking” handmade ivory straws. And if your nose is a little clogged from too much coke, why not try “Noze: the nose wash”?

So as the majority of the taglines in these magazine clippings say, “Let it snow!”


 

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Early color Autochromes of New York City, 1900-1930
04.26.2016
12:38 pm

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History

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The lowly potato changed color photography forever.

In 1903, two French inventors and photographers, Auguste and Louis Lumière, used the potato as the basis for their patented process in creating color photographs, or Autochromes as they were called. It was a simple but ingenious technique—crush potatoes into tiny particles; separate these minuscule starch particles into three; add red, violet and green dye; mix onto a glass plate; brush off the excess; flatten the dyed particles onto the plate between two rollers—thus creating microscopic color filters; fill in any gaps with carbon; brush with light sensitive silver bromide. Now you have a photographic plate ready to take color pictures.

By 1907, the Lumières’ technique had infected the photographic world with “color fever.” Many early color photographers claimed painting was dead. The future was the Autochrome. (Apparently someone forgot to tell Picasso.)

Unlike many of the European or Russian Autochromes from the turn of the twentieth century—which are usually filled with citizens at work or idly posing in narrow streets—these early Autochromes of New York are often empty of people as if the monumental nature of the city’s buildings made humans seem irrelevant, Lillputian, or simply unnecessary. When the city’s residents do appear they’re often blurred, frenetically charged, crammed into market scenes, or watching the camera from the seashore.
 
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Mulberry Street market, circa 1900s.
 
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Balcony overlooking Mulberry Street, ca. 1900s.
 
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Lower East Side, ca. 1900s.
 
More early color Autochromes of New York, after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Hyper-detailed miniature versions of New York’s seedy streets, subways and strip clubs
04.25.2016
09:40 am

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Art
History
Sex

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A miniature version of former Time Square peep show and porn shop, Peep World
A miniature version of the infamous ‘Peep World’  porn shop, shown with a one-dollar-bill—how appropriate—to show scale.
 
Brooklyn native, artist Alan Wolfson was riding the subway into his beloved city by the time he was only ten-years-old and has strong recollections of what the city that never sleeps looked like back in the 1950s and 1960s. Although Wolfson says he never started out wanting to be an artist, in 1979 he moved to Los Angeles with the hope of cutting his teeth designing miniature effects for films. There, thanks to a bit of luck and good timing, a friend of Wolfson’s introduced him to an art dealer. A year later, Wolfson would showcase ten of his remarkably detailed 1/2-scale replicas that would launch his nearly 40-year career.
 
A tiny replica of a
Take a peek inside ‘Peep World’ and their “Private Fantasy Booths.”
 
So painstakingly detailed are Wolfson’s tiny structures that it almost appears that they had once been inhabited by small sleazeballs or strippers. Many of Wolfson’s works are creative fictional mashups that he dreamed up—however some are modeled after real, seedy New York landmarks. Such as “Peep World,” the long-running porn theater and shop (near Madison Square Garden) that finally closed its doors in 2012. Thanks to Wolfson, we can still take a peek inside “Peep World” where the racks are still lined with filthy magazines, or leer inside one of the joint’s “Private Fantasy Booths.” You can practically smell the Pine Sol.
 
A look at Peep World's dirty magazine and DVD racks
A look at Peep World’s dirty magazine and DVD racks.
 
Many more of Wolfson’s tiny, sometimes fictional homages to a lost New York, after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Meet Hitler the Hells Angel and Steve the stay-at-home Skinhead: Gang culture documentary from 1969
04.22.2016
11:12 am

Topics:
History
Pop Culture

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Hitler the Hells Angel.
 
A gang of British Hells Angels ride into town. They gather at their favored bar in Birmingham, England, the aptly named Oddfellows’ Arms. The bar is the last remnant of a once-thriving working class area. Inside, the Angels drink, chat, and carouse. At one of the crowded tables a young biker has “Mum + Dad” tattooed on his soft white arm.

A film crew documents these activities. When asked, the Hells Angels talk of their rejection of society’s values, their independence, their freedom. They relish their dirty appearance, long hair, and their uniformity of dress. One biker has a jacket covered with the Nazi insignia. He says his parents’ generation fought the Nazis—“The only good German was a dead German,” they said—but he’s never met a bad German. He wears the badges and pins to shock, to disgust, to rebel—to show his “outlaw” status.

Though these Hells Angels consider themselves free of society’s rules, they do have their own codes and rituals by which they live their lives. Outside the bar, a young couple named Sylvia and Hitler get married. They want their relationship to be recognized by the other Angels. The marriage is a genuine ritual. To the rest of society Hitler and Sylvia are “living in sin.” Like any other newlyweds, the couple will have to get a job, some “bread” and somewhere to live.

When Hitler is asked about his name, he explains he was called “Hitler” by the other Angels because he has “proved himself.”

Interviewer: How do you prove yourself?

Hitler: There’s quite a few ways you can prove like. I mean, beat a skinhead up—that’s great. That’s class. I mean, if it was legal we’d go around hanging skinheads.

 
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Four skins…
 
The kids were out of control. Or so it seemed. The rise in births after the Second World War saw a massive number of youngsters reach their teens and twenties during the 1960s. There was a fear the country was being swamped by gangs of youths. There was no longer any National Service to dissipate their energy on military maneuvers or war. There was more money. More leisure time. More entertainment. Pop music and television were the new gods. For an older generation, the hysteria of Beatlemania—with its “out of control” mobs of teen girls—was as much a portent to the breakdown in British society as the gangs terrorizing the inner cities. Teddy Boys. Razor gangs. Rockers. Mods. Tribes defined as much by their violence as by their tastes in music, their clothes, their modes of transport, or their goddamn hairstyles.

In the 1950s, poet Thom Gunn wrote a highly preceptive poem called “On the Move” about the rise of rebelious youth and their chaotic, unfocussed energy. The poem describes a biker gang roaming across America “reaching no absolute, in which to rest” always moving “toward, toward.” Gunn was inspired by The Wild One, the Marlon Brando movie, where his character Johnny was asked “What you rebeling against, Johnny?” To which Brando’s character replies, “Whatcha got?” Though Gunn’s admiration for the bikers’ rebellious attitude is obvious, he sees their actions as wasted and inadequate to provoke any real change.

By the late 1960s, skinheads were considered a bigger threat to the British public than bikers. Hell’s Angels kept their business amongst themselves. Skinheads attacked anyone—though primarily anyones of a different ethnicity to their own “pure blood” white skin. Skinheads were thuggishly unrepentant “bovver boys” who’d give you a kicking as much a look at you.
 
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Skinhead Steve with his parents.
 
The documentary shifts to a group of young skinheads from London. They brag about “Paki bashing.” They crow about their racism and violence. The film focuses on one young skinhead called Steve. The camera follows him home where he watches TV with his mom and dad. His father had been a Teddy Boy. He understands the appeal of being in a gang. Steve tells him about the thrill of marching through South End a thousand strong. The feeling of being part of something says Steve, would bring “tears to your eyes.”

Steve: It makes you feel proud. It will last for a little while. Then something new will come along. But till then you’ve got us. It’s just the way it goes.

More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Holiday photos of John Lennon as a child in 1951 on a school trip to the seaside
04.21.2016
10:59 am

Topics:
History
Pop Culture

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A ten-year-old John Lennon is instantly recognizable in these photographs taken during a school trip to the Isle of Man—a popular holiday destination off the west coast of England. Our eyes are drawn to his figure, standing left of frame, leaning slightly forward, arms out, knee-deep in waves. Lennon is surrounded by his classmates from Dovedale Junior School. To one side is the future BBC news journalist Peter Sissons. To the other fists clenched ready to rumble is comedian Jimmy Tarbuck.

Tarbuck has since recalled in an interview how Lennon “had a strong personality” even though he was “like any other kid in those days, having a few scraps in the playground.” That strength of personality is apparent from these photos where Lennon is either at the center of things or in the front row.

Six years later, in the summer of 1957, Lennon was playing with his band The Quarrymen at a garden fete of St Peter’s Church, Woolton, Liverpool. That was the day he met another young musician called Paul McCartney.
 
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The young John Lennon left of center next to Jimmy Tarbuck with fists up to right. Peter Sissons is on left edge of frame behind Lennon.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Combat Zone: A look back at Boston’s mythical dens of sleaze
04.19.2016
10:51 am

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Art
History
Sex

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The Naked i cabaret in Boston's old
The Naked i Cabaret in Boston’s old “Combat Zone.”
 
I grew up in a small town just outside of Boston called Somerville. And like pretty much like any other teenager, I worked quite hard at the craft of getting into trouble as often as possible. I ran with a crowd that was comprised of teenage losers that enjoyed passing the time stealing beer from delivery trucks. As far as you (and my parents) know, I (mostly) never did anything more than drink said stolen beer under train track bridges while underage.
 
Combat Zone, 1974
Combat Zone, 1974.
 
But when it came to a right of passage in Boston, if you were a late teen or mostly of legal drinking age in the late 80s, you hit up Boston’s Chinatown after last call to eat food full of MSG and drink “cold tea.” In Boston, (and perhaps where you grew up, too), “cold tea” was code for “beer” (usually flat) that you could order slightly before or after closing time that was served up in white teapots in certain restaurants in Chinatown. Of course, after a night of youthful boozing, we would occasionally have enough “beer balls” to walk through the red light district of Boston that bordered Chinatown known as the Combat Zone. I remember one particular night when, after a couple of pots of cold tea, someone dared me to sprint through the Zone alone as fast as I could, which I did. Because what could go wrong when a blond teenage girl decides to run through the seediest part of town full of peep shows, dirty book stores, prostitutes and pimps?

Although widely considered a place of ill-repute, the Combat Zone’s history is important to Boston for many reasons. Specifically, thanks to its “relaxed” approach to adult oriented pursuits, the Combat Zone was also home to a wide variety of drag clubs and gay bars frequented by Boston’s LGBT community. Which is in part why in 1976 The Wall Street Journal dubbed the area a “sexual Disneyland.” In other words, there was something for everyone in the Combat Zone. And that wasn’t always a bad thing. In 2010, an art exhibit at the Howard Yezerski Gallery showcased photos taken in the Combat Zone from 1969 - 1978. Many of the images from the show as well as others taken during the Zone’s heyday, follow.
 
A sign outside the Combat Zone riffing on a famous line from JFK's inaugural address
 
Combat Zone, 1978
1978
 
More Beantown sleaze, after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Black holes: Censorship’s handiwork creates eerie photographs
04.11.2016
10:15 am

Topics:
History
Politics
Stupid or Evil?

Tags:

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Under a black sun farmworkers labor in fields. They harvest crops oblivious to the strange eclipse in the skies above them. On closer inspection the sun is perhaps a spot on the lens. Or a camera fault, or perhaps a mistake in printing. There are more photographs, but here the faces of the farmworkers have been devoured by this black spot—eaten like a cancer. It’s now apparent these black dots, these black holes, have been deliberately made.

During the 1930’s Great Depression the US Government set up the Farm Security Administration to help combat the country’s rural poverty. As part of the FSA’s remit was a photography project set up by Roy Stryker to document the lives of the people who lived and worked on the land.

Stryker hired some of the best photographers of the day such as Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, Walker Evans, Ben Shahn, and Edwin and Louise Rosskam, among many, many others. The photographers were briefed as to what the FSA wanted documented. When the rolls of film were sent back from locations across the USA, Stryker rigorously examined each and every negative. His system for discarding images was brutal—he used a hole punch to pierce any negative he didn’t like—making it unusable.

It is not known on exactly what grounds Stryker rejected an image. Was it aesthetic reasons? Bad teeth, ugly people? Political? Images of farm life that did not coincide with the government’s desires narrative? Whichever—of the 164,000 developed negatives, only around 77,000 were made available for use. That’s a helluva lot of rejected photographs.

Stryker’s vandalism killed many historic and irreplaceable photographs. Of those that remain, Stryker’s hole punch handiwork has created strange yet still compelling images. Some conspiracy theorists suggest the photos were censored because of UFOs, or strange deformities, or odd background figures—and similar flights of fancy. In truth they were probably censored because the reality of human deprivation never sits easy with a government’s self-image.

I think one can safely assume that artist John Baldessari is well aware of these images.
 
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More of striking examples of Stryker’s censorship, after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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